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Tiger tailing Molinari into Masters final round

Matt Youmans  
VSiN senior editor

April 14, 2019 01:10 AM
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Tiger Woods is getting 3-1 odds going into the final round of the Masters. Woods is tied for second, two strokes back of Francesco Molinari.
© USA Today Sports Images

Tiger Woods triggers the loudest roars from fans at Augusta National, and the same is true inside Las Vegas sports books. There is no doubt about Tiger’s status as the most popular player in golf, even more than a decade since his last major win.

But not everyone will be rooting for Woods during Sunday’s final round of the Masters. Smaller roars will be heard from bettors holding tickets on Francesco Molinari, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka and any other player who shoots his way into contention.

Molinari, who teed off Thursday at 20-1 odds, holds a two-stroke lead and is the new tournament favorite. William Hill adjusted Molinari’s odds to 2-1, and the Westgate posted a price of plus-175. Woods (3-1) and Finau (6-1) are tied for second after three rounds. Koepka, three strokes back in fourth, is posted at 5-1 at William Hill and 6-1 at the Westgate.

Bettors will need to set alarm clocks for an early wake-up call. With thunderstorms in the forecast, Masters officials moved up the tee times and put players into threesomes. The first groups tee off at 4:30 a.m. PT. Molinari, Woods and Finau will go off at 6:20 a.m. The Westgate and William Hill will post live betting lines during Sunday’s round.

“There’s a lot of pressure on Molinari,” Westgate golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said. “He’s been there before, though. It’s not like it’s a new stage for him.”

Koepka won two of the past three majors — the U.S. Open in June and PGA Championship in August. Molinari won the British Open in July and followed by winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in early March. The tiny Italian who checks in at 5-8 and 160 pounds held off Tiger’s final-round charge in the British.

William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said his pick to win is Molinari, who has not carded a bogey in his past 43 holes at Augusta.

In all of Woods’ 14 major wins, he held at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

Coming from behind is not Tiger’s style on Sunday, but his comeback story is unique. The 43-year-old last won the Masters in 2005, and 42 majors have been contested since Woods last won one in 2008.

“I would not discount Tiger at all,” Sherman said. “He has been going forward every day.”

VSiN golf handicapper Brady Kannon is not eyeing Tiger for a Sunday play. Kannon is holding a 100-1 ticket on Webb Simpson, who fired a 64 on Saturday to go 9 under par, four strokes behind Molinari. Simpson ranks fifth on the PGA Tour in final-round scoring this season, while Koepka ranks seventh and Tiger is 27th.

“Simpson does not have enough length off of the tee to surpass Koepka,” Kannon said. “I think it’s possible that we get a playoff. Tiger, along with someone who makes a crazy charge, will come up one shot short.”

Kannon is going with Koepka, who closed Thursday at 25-1 odds. A wrist injury kept Koepka, the winner of the past two U.S. Opens, out of last year’s Masters.

Rory McIlroy went in as the Masters favorite but is going out with a whimper. McIlroy is 12 strokes back in a tie for 39th.

The past two Masters champions, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia, were two of the most unpopular winners in the event’s history. Reed is tied for 47th after three rounds, and Garcia missed the cut.

A win by Woods on Sunday would be popular with almost everyone but the bookmakers. William Hill took an $85,000 wager on Woods at 14-1, and the Westgate took a $10,000 bet on Woods at 12-1. Tiger is the about only contender in the field who could deal the books a loss, but also consider the big picture.

“Tiger has been at low odds and people have been betting him for years,” Sherman said. “The books have made a lot of money off of him, so if he ends up winning, so be it.”

Masters adjusted odds after three rounds

(Westgate sports book)

Francesco Molinari 7/4

Tiger Woods 3/1

Brooks Koepka 6/1

Tony Finau 13/2

Dustin Johnson 25/1

Ian Poulter 30/1

Xander Schauffele 30/1

Webb Simpson 40/1

Matt Kuchar 40/1

Louis Oosthuizen 50/1

Rickie Fowler 50/1

Adam Scott 80/1

Fourth-round score props:

Molinari 69.5; Woods 69; Finau 70; Koepka 69.5; Kuchar 70

Johnson 68.5; Fowler 69; Justin Thomas 69; Jon Rahm 69.5

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